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  • CAC eyes funding for cashew shell biofuel production 01/01/2024

    Jan 1st, 2024

    Six Chinese companies have expressed interest in establishing cashew processing plants in Cambodia, with one specialising in producing Cashew Nut Shell Liquid (CNSL), according to the Cashew Nut Association of Cambodia (CAC). CNSL is a by-product of industrial processing that can be transformed into a renewable, biodegradable and cost-effective biofuel, viewed as an eco-friendly alternative to petro-diesel. Uon Silot, president of the CAC, revealed during the January 1 groundbreaking ceremony for Singapore’s new processing plant, that he had invited Chinese investors to the event who have shown an interest in establishing cashew processing plants, particularly for converting cashew shells into high-quality fuel. He noted that Chinese companies are very interested in Cambodia’s abundant cashew supply, as they require the shells to convert them into biofuel for export to environmentally conscious nations such as Japan, South Korea and EU members. “This is an encouraging development for Cambodia, and I hope the company maintains communication with us. If they are interested in establishing a factory, we have ample land available for their investment in construction,” Silot stated. “The CAC benefits from the backing of the government, the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) and provincial authorities, all of whom are committed to agro-industrial investment. I am optimistic that these companies will make favourable decisions in 2024-2025,” he added. He noted that the Chinese company that met with the association’s representatives already has a factory in Vietnam and is looking to expand to Cambodia due to the potential for increased annual raw kernel production. “The six Chinese companies operate various types of factories: cashew processing plants, facilities that convert cashew shells into fuel and plants that utilise the final waste product, which is used to produce CNSL and industrial charcoal, which is highly combustible and also used as fertiliser,” he explained. According to the CAC president, cashew shells can be processed into biofuels as an alternative to diesel. Silot noted that Japanese-owned Mirath Agri Tech Co Ltd has begun expanding its factory operations in Kampong Thom and Preah Vihear provinces to process cashew kernels and refine biofuels from the shells, marking the country’s journey to becoming a ‘cashew empire’. In Lai Huot, owner of Kampong Thom-based Chey Sambor Cashew Nut Processing Handicrafts, said that it was positive news for farmers if more foreign investors establish factories in the country. She explained that the increase in local processing plants would reduce the export of raw cashew kernels to neighbouring countries and enhance Cambodia’s value addition. “In the past, we sold cashew shells to the Vietnamese side, but they became too cheap, so we decided to sell them locally instead. We have discussed with our partner, a Japanese company, about processing the cashew shells. We are not focused solely on the Vietnamese market,” she said. Li Hout also welcomed new companies looking to invest in establishing facilities for processing cashew shells or waste. The CAC report that in the first 11 months of 2023, the Kingdom produced 645,000 tonnes of raw cashew nuts, of which 617,000 tonnes were exported to Vietnam, valued at $834 million – a 16.9 per cent decrease compared to the same period in 2022. According to the association, the average price of dried nuts was $1,658 per tonne for the period, while in November, the price of dried nuts ranged from 7,000-7,700 ($1.71-$1.88) riel per kilogramme, or about $1,800 per tonne.